Tuesday night, Occupy Wall Street activists flooded into Zuccotti Park once again. They resurrected a downsized version of their library. They carried in food and signs, and of course, at least one drum. It was a jubilant moment. Unlike the festive barricade throwdown on New Year's Eve, this time, the Occupy presence may last more than a few hours.
The barricades may not be coming back anytime soon. They were removed one day after the New York Civil Liberties Union and others sent a letter to city officials arguing that the metal fencing violated zoning laws. The new barricade-free park may have re-energized the Occupy activists.
But the hazy system of governance there remains. Who makes the rules at the private park? Is it Brookfield Properties, the park's owners? Is it the city's police department?
Three activists were arrested Tuesday on minor charges like trespassing, The New York Times reported. Others were threatened with arrest for bringing in books and food. "It was a bunch of books spread out," said Gideon Orion Oliver, the president of the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Brookfield security guards backed off the food ban but not the library crates, Oliver said. "Eventually people picked up the books, carried the books around, sat down and read so it looked less like a library," Oliver said, adding that he asked a security guard why they were banning the book crates. The guard said the books in the park were against the rules. Oliver said he had never seen such a rule. The guard, Oliver said, told him that was one of the unwritten rules. At one point, he added, authorities confiscated a drum.
"People were told to get up if they were laying down," Oliver said. According to Oliver, they were also told not to stand on the granite seats or sit on cardboard. They were told that they couldn't have signs.
When asked about enforcement in the park, a New York Police Department spokesman told HuffPost that the police are not in charge. "The security guards are the ones dictating staying and leaving," he said.
"Have you spoken with Brookfield Properties? I can tell you that the rules regarding this park are based on Brookfield Properities. It's a private park," he said.
The spokesman added that in the case of the three arrests, the private security guards warned each activist to leave the park before the police were called in. "They were still not compliant," he said.
Brookfield had little to say about the arrests or the unwritten bans on cardboard. "We are pleased that Zuccotti Park has returned to a state of normalcy," Melissa Coley, a company spokesperson, said in an email to HuffPost.
Normalcy could mean a steady arrest count. Arrests of Occupy Oakland activists have increased after their encampment was downsized into a vigil spot. The activists have since encountered a police force that has been quick to seize protest materials.
In their letter to city officials, the lawyers argued that the Zuccotti Park guards had refused to let citizens into the park if they had food, yoga mats or shawls. Oakland-style arrests may come next. If they do, Oliver said he believed there would be grounds for another civil suit; one has already been filed over the protesters' eviction and another over the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge.
"I'm certainly concerned that if these behaviors continue it will certainly result in more litigation," Oliver said. "Likely it will result in more litigation."
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